Translation headset for Simultaneous Interpretation: Receivers, Transmitters, Interpreter Console

Translation Headset

Deciding on the most reliable technology for your simultaneous interpretation needs is the first step in the process of choosing the right translation headset

There are two major technologies in simultaneous interpretations –FM/RF and IR.

FM (or RF for Radio Frequency equipment) is a technology similar to that used by radio stations and can cover wide distances and penetrate walls. It’s used at schools and universities, houses of worship, courtrooms, meetings rooms and auditoriums, theatres, guided tours and tours of factories as well as for assistive listening / hearing assistance. 

IR (or Infrared) is mostly used for conferences with more than 6 languages and/or meetings that are highly confidential, and where more secure communications are needed that are less susceptible to interference. Because an IR system uses infrared light for transmission, it is not affected by interference from radio equipment and does not interfere with radio equipment. No FCC license or radio approval is required. IR normally requires line-of-site. An IR translation system is more expensive and bulkier (requiring modulators, emitters, mount racks, etc.) than an FM translation system and the set up is more complicated. Other applications include police, security, governmental and military organizations where confidentiality is paramount.

At we will work with you to establish the best technology for your interpretation needs. Feel free to contact us with any questions you may have with respect to the right technology.


church using translation equipment for simultaneous interpretation

In the following table you can see the main differences between FM and IR translation headsets:

  FM/ RF System IR System

Equipment Required

  • Transmitters:  As many as target languages in the room
  • Translation headsets ( FM receivers):
    one per person
  • Interpreter microphone / interpreter headset: one per interpreter
  • Emitter: one every 8 languages
  • Translation headset: IR Receivers: (one per person).
  • Interpreter microphone: one per interpreter
  • Modulators
  • Wall Mount
IR panels: the amount and power of each panel should be determined according to the room size
Optional Equipment (both systems)

Interpreter units: Recommended/required in professional systems. Depending on the type, a main unit and an analog/digital converser may be required as well

Installation Quicker (it can take as little as 5 minutes) Takes more time
Installation notes FM signal spreads out with ease covering the entire room The receivers need to be in direct line with the IR panels. If there are columns, a crossed transmission is required to receive the signal from more than one direction at a time
Weight Lighter equipment Heavier and bulkier system
Expansion Easier to expand the system  
Range type Signal goes through the walls Signal stays within the room
Coverage range

150Ft. for a portable transmitter

300-500Ft. for a table top transmitter (expandable to 1,000 feet with a larger antenna)
Depends on the power and quantity of panels. The size of the room and the quantity of languages in the system would determine the required equipment.
Cost More economic than IR Systems Up to four times more expensive than some FM Translation Systems
Interference Very rare. A multi-channel translation headset is recommended to reduce interference risks Zero interference
Maximum Languages 6-8 Maximum amount of languages at the same time in one room 64 maximum languages at the same time in one room
Flexibility It is possible to split one system to be used in several rooms It is not possible to split one system and use it in more rooms unless more equipment is added to the system
Compatibility Some regulations may apply to broadcast on specific frequencies There are no restrictions

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